The Jakarta Post
Vietnam’s Vietjet Air is to open two direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Bali and Jakarta in May, while Vietnam Airlines is increasing its flights to Indonesia from Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. Direct flights connecting Cambodia and Indonesia are also being readied.
Increasing direct international flights to major tourist destinations in Indonesia will go a long way toward boosting growth in foreign tourist arrivals, which totaled only 16 million last year. Although it was more than the 14.04 million foreign tourists that visited the country in 2017, it still fell short of the government’s 2018 target of 17 million foreign tourist arrivals. This year’s target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals will also be an uphill climb.
In fact, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Indonesia’s foreign tourist arrivals have always been miserably lower than its potential as the world’s largest archipelagic country, with its diverse cultures and its natural wealth of mountains and beaches, as well as its amazing man-made attractions.
The UNWTO recorded that foreign tourist arrivals in Southeast Asia increased 7 percent to 128.4 million last year, with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia being the most popular destinations. The lack of direct international flights to major destinations on Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and the easternmost islands has been cited as a major cause of the slow growth in Indonesia’s tourism.
Hence, allowing more point-to-point international air travel to Indonesia, primarily from our regional neighbors under the ASEAN Open Skies policies, will contribute significantly to wooing more foreign visitors. Aside from providing easier access to visitors, foreign airlines serving routes to Indonesia also help promote tourist destinations in the country through their marketing campaigns.
Likewise, attracting more international hotel chains to operate in Indonesia would be an effective way of drawing in more foreign tourists. The tourism industry would benefit directly if more international hotel chains opened branches in major destinations on Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and other major islands, as these companies promote their new hotels — and by default, Indonesian destinations — to their customers through their global marketing networks.
We think that the government should step up its efforts to attract more international airlines and global hotel chains to operate in Indonesia — while continuing with their direct promotions to source markets in China, Australia, Europe and the Americas, while expanding its cross-border regional tourism with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and other ASEAN countries.
Travel and tourism are among the most promising industries for development, not only because Indonesia is blessed with a wealth of tourism resources. Tourism also helps grow local economies through its multiplier effect on local transportation, creative economies, hospitality sectors like food and beverage, and numerous related industries.
Most importantly, tourism development does require much import, and the industry is labor intensive and drives exports, thereby contributing to alleviating the current account deficit.